BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Tall Ship - Part XIII
Saturday, December 15, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. The tale works to its climax as Hannah runs, and the crew chase. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2043    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

“See?” Sam said, looking down at the little boy next to him. “I told you she’s okay.”

Ethan had his thumb in his mouth, biting on the pad. “’Kay.” He didn’t sound convinced, even though he was staring into the infirmary at his mother.

Sam sighed, bending down and lifting the boy onto his hip. He hadn’t had much to do with small children for a while, not since his daughter was little. Even visiting her and being made to hold her babies hadn’t prepared him for the experience of dealing with children like those on board Serenity. “Ethan, we’re doing what we can.”

“Misses Daddy.” His voice was indistinct.

“Yes, she does.”

The boy looked at Sam, his blue eyes piercing, full of sadness. “Doesn’t want us.”

“No, Ethan, that’s not the case,” Sam assured him. He looked around, saw the yellow sofa against the wall and went to sit down. Ethan climbed into his lap, holding onto his silk shirt with a tiny fist. “She loves you. Both of you. But she’s hurting so much that she can’t see how much she loves you, and we have to remind her.”

“How?”

“We talk to her. Tell her how much we care. That she’s not alone.”

“Make it stop hurting?”

He nodded. “We’ll try. But it won’t stop for a long time.”

“But we’ll be here.” Ethan’s little face was hopeful. “Can I tell her now?”

Sam glanced into the infirmary, where Simon was adjusting a drip into Freya’s arm, and Kaylee had hold of her hand. “In a little while. Why don’t you tell me what you want to say?”

“Want my Mama.” He bit his lip as a tear ran down his cheek. “Want to tell her Ethan loves her.”

Sam felt a knot tighten in his chest, and he took a deep breath, pledging silently to do all he could for this boy’s mother. “That’s –“

Zoe leaned in the doorway. “Doc!” she shouted.

Simon hurried into the common area. “What is it? Someone hurt?”

“Not sure. Get your bag.” She was gone in a swirl of leather waistcoat.

“Honey?” Kaylee watched as her husband grabbed his medkit. “What is it?”

“I don’t know.” He looked into her puzzled eyes. “Keep an eye on Freya.” Then he turned and ran into the cargo bay.

Kaylee looked at Sam. “Any idea what’s going on?”

He shook his head. “None. Perhaps we should ask Hank if he –“ The sound of the hovermule leaving the cargo bay interrupted him.

“’S a secret,” Bethany said as she ran in from the lower crew quarters. “But keeping everything crossed.” She held up her hands, her fingers in a tangle.

---

Hannah had her foot down as far as possible, but the small vehicle had never had much power, and slogging across the wet ground slowed it even more. Willing it on, she was arguing with herself as she drove.

“Shouldn’t’ve run,” she muttered. “But they’re wrong. It’s not him. I know it’s not him.” She negotiated a fallen tree. “Can’t be him. Won’t let it be.” But she knew she was wrong, and wondered if maybe she’d lost her mind. “And if it is, he deserves someone better. Someone not willing to give up.” Damn. Now she was lying even to herself. Maybe she ought to turn around, go back to town. Find them again. Although they were probably looking for her right –

The front tyre exploded and she pitched forwards, banging her head on the steering wheel. Hands grabbed her, pulling her out of the vehicle. She blinked hard as she attempted to clear her eyes of the darkness trying to encroach, managing to focus on the figure in front.

“Well, well, if it ain’t Ms Tebril.” Truman Kruse, Kendall’s second in command, smiled coldly at her.

“Let me go!” Hannah said, beginning to fight against the men holding her.

“Mr Kendall’s gonna be pleased we got you, though that ain’t gonna stop him going after that man of yours.”

She froze. “Ben?”

“That his name? Then yeah. The boss don’t like being threatened, least of all by a lone man. Don’t do his rep any good, know what I mean?”

“What are you talking about?” Her voice was hoarse.

“At your place right now. Gonna make an example of him.”

She paled. “My children are there.”

Kruse shrugged, unconcerned. “So?”

Hannah struggled even harder, pulling one arm free and kicking at the one still holding her. Kruse hit her, the flat of his hand leaving a bright red mark on her face, even as his companion grabbed at Hannah’s arms again.

She glared at him. “Bastard!”

“Now, that’s not nice. I think maybe I need to teach you some manners.” He ran his fingers down her cheek, continuing down to cup her breast through her dress and coat.

She struggled, but couldn’t get loose. “Leave me alone!” she shouted.

“Scream all you like, Hannah,” Kruse said softly, leaning towards her. “No-one’s gonna hear you.”

“No?” Jayne rose up from behind a bush like a devil from a trapdoor and fired, the bullet hitting Kruse in the temple. The man jerked back, blood and grey matter spraying from where his head more or less exploded. “Thought so.” He was so pissed he didn’t even attempt to wound the others, just firing until the men were down and dead, with not even one gun having cleared a holster. “I hate this gorram planet,” he grumbled as he walked forward. “It ain’t got a single redeeming feature.”

Hannah stared at him, shocked into immobility. “How …” She couldn’t get more words out.

“Followed ya. You okay?” he asked, taking her arm. “You ain’t hit or nothing?”

“N … no,” she stammered. Then realisation hit. “God. No.” She pulled herself free, her face white as a sheet. “My children!” she shouted, running through the trees, even as Jayne heard the mule coming up behind them.

“Jayne!” Zoe called, and the big man was after her, grabbing her around the waist.

“Let me go!”

“Ain't gonna do that. We all go,” he grunted, swinging her up onto the mule as Zoe brought it abreast of them, Simon helping her into a seat.

-

He gathered the wood into his arms, feeling the wound in his belly pulling a little, but not paining him. It felt good to be outside, and the cold air was pleasant. Spring was a ways off yet, but it made an interesting change to be on the ground enjoying the winter respite instead of … His eyes narrowed as he tried to remember. Instead of … where? Where else would he be if not on the ground?

It was there, his memory, the truth of it if only he could reach it. But as he tried to grasp it, the images floated away like leaves on the tide. It frustrated him, knowing that who he was, what he was, kept eluding him.

“Ben?” Jonah called. “You want some coffee?”

He smiled at the boy over his shoulder. “That’d be good.”

Jonah grinned and brought out a mug to him, putting it down on the windowsill. “Thought you’d say that.”

He put the wood back down and ruffled the boy’s hair. “Thanks. ‘Though should you be handling the boiling water without supervision?”

Jonah pushed his hair flat again, and gave him a familiar look, composed mainly of exasperation at the density of adults, with a healthy dose of at least trying to be patient. “I'm nearly ten.”

He laughed. “My apologies, then. You’ll be out working before long, with that beard you’ll be having soon.”

“I'm not the one with the beard,” Jonah pointed out.

“No, maybe not.” He stroked the face fur. “But at least I'm old enough to grow it.”

“Looks only fair to middling.”

“What?” He pretended umbrage.

Jonah grinned. “Needs filling in.”

He grabbed for the boy but he skipped away. “You just come back here, young man.”

“Catch me!” Jonah half-crouched, waiting to see which way he’d go.

Chuckling, he feinted in one direction, then took the other around the stack of logs, catching Jonah and getting hold of him before he could duck out. He started to tickle him, holding him firmly as the boy giggled and tried to get away.

“Stop, stop!” Jonah begged.

“Nope. Not ‘til you apologise for dissing my beard. I think it looks manly.”

Jonah could hardly speak for laughing, beginning to hiccup too. “Sorry! I'm sorry! It’s a great beard! Honest!”

“Better.” He was laughing himself, hearing the blood pounding in his ears. Only it wasn’t his blood. He stopped. Something was coming. “Ethan, run in the house,” he said quietly, putting the boy down and grabbing the rifle waiting by the chopping block.

“My name’s not –”

“Go!” He pushed him. “Get your sister and hide!”

Jonah ran into the house and slammed the door behind him.

-

“Please hurry!” Hannah begged, leaning forward in the mule as the dark woman navigated. “My children …”

“We’ll get there,” the young man she didn’t know assured her, holding onto her in case she tried to jump out of the vehicle.

“Zoe.” The big man was listening hard.

“I heard.”

“What?” Hannah froze. “Oh God.” Now she heard what they had. Gunfire, up ahead.

-

Horses, moving around in the undergrowth. He could hear them, even as the rest of his senses told him there were guns trained on him. A thrill across the back of his neck made him drop to the ground an instant before a bullet splintered the wooden wall right where his head had been. Crawling swiftly, he made it to behind the woodpile, taking shelter as more shots were fired. He heard the breaking of window glass, and prayed that the children were doing what he’d said, and hiding.

“Enough!” a voice called, one he recognised all too well. The shooting stopped.

“Kendall?” he shouted.

“Glad to see you remember me.” Kendall sounded amused.

“’Bout all I do remember.”

“Really? Sorry about that, Ben. That’s your name, right? What Hannah calls you? Well, Ben, I can assure you your lack of memory won’t be a problem for you much longer.”

“Oh? You planning on being civilised and leaving?”

A laugh echoed eerily through the trees. “No. Unless being civilised means nailing your hide to that there wall once I've skinned it off your corpse.”

“Not in any world I've ever seen, no.”

“Then let’s not kid ourselves. I'm aiming to kill you.”

“Man should have ambition.” He ratcheted a shell into the chamber. “Even if it don’t come to anything.”

A bullet whipped out of the trees and buried itself in a log not two inches from him.

“Damn it, I said stop!” Kendall roared. “I’ll tell you when to fire!” His voice continued, back to the conversational level of before. “Sorry about that.”

“Right.”

“So why don’t you come out from behind there and so I can shoot you?”

“You know, I seem to recall hearing those words from someone before.” For a moment he had a flash of yellow sand, some kind of vehicle with enormous wheels, and … “Cao,” he whispered as it went again.

“Did you shoot him? I only ask as he obviously didn’t shoot you.”

“Wish I could tell you.” He glanced towards the house. “Kendall, there’s kids inside. If this is between you and me, maybe we should do it someplace else. Away from here.”

“You think I care?”

“Honestly, no. Just thought you might like to play the gentleman before I kill you.”

“Well, there’s eight of us and one of you. I like those odds.”

“I don’t.” He lifted up to his knees and fired at the movement he’d seen as he peered between two logs, and there was a cry from the trees. “Seven to one. Getting better,” he called, dropping back down.

“Fisher?” Kendall shouted.

A different voice answered. “He’s dead, boss.”

There was a pause, then Kendall spoke again. “I thought you’d lost your memory.”

He had to smile. “I have. But not how to shoot.”

“No. I figured that one out.” Kendall’s voice was dry.

“You know, I’ve a notion this ain't fair.” He peered through the gap again. “Like you said, there’s more of you than me, yet you’re hiding. How come? Why don’t you just try to rush me? Who knows, you might be lucky and get me ‘fore I get all of you.”

“That’s true,” Kendall agreed. “But I'm waiting.”

“Waiting? For what?”

A scrabbling noise behind and above him gave him the answer. Rolling onto his back, he lifted the rifle, taking only a split second to register the man on the roof of the house before he fired. The man dropped his gun and cried out, his hands grabbing at his chest as he fell. The body landed next to the woodpile and lay still.

Gunfire erupted from the trees again and he rolled back under cover, hunkering down as a hail of bullets bit into the logs, throwing up a storm of splinters. This time, though, Kendall didn’t seem disposed to stop it.

He checked the rifle. Five more bullets, not nearly enough to get them all, even if they were kind enough to stand still while he fired at them. Still, if he could take some of them out, that’d be a blessing, especially if he could get them away from the house and the kids inside.

The kids … God, no. He glanced at the body next to him and felt his heart speed up even more. If this man had got behind, come up over the roof, there was nothing to stop someone …

“Kendall!” A voice from inside the house.

His heart sank.

“Yeah?”

“Got ‘em!”

Kendall laughed. “Seems like the tide just turned in my favour, Ben. So why don’t you drop that gun and come on out into the open. ‘Fore my man takes it into his head to do something to those children?”

He closed his eyes, opening then quickly as he heard the door hinges creak. A man appeared, Jonah and Rachel in front of him, held tightly one in each hand.

“Ben?” Jonah said, his eyes frightened.

“It’s okay,” he said, trying to smile for him. “I won’t let them hurt you.” He put the gun down on the ground, very carefully, and slowly stood up. He turned towards the trees. “Okay, Kendall. You win. Just let them go.” He raised his hands.

Kendall stepped out from the trees, his men following him. He had a wide grin on his face. “Seems like my ambition‘s about to be realised.” He moved closer, pulling a knife from the sheath at his belt and running a finger tenderly along the razor-sharp edge. “You know what I said about your hide?” He grinned. “I meant every word.” He nodded at two of his men. “Hold him.”

He didn’t struggle against the hands on his arms, pulling them behind his back, just saying, “Let the children go. If you’re going to do this, they don’t have to see.”

“Except maybe they should. It’s never too late to learn who’s in charge.” Kendall used the point of the knife to snick away the top button of his captive’s shirt, then the second. “To learn what the losing side feels like.”

“The …” He grabbed at the memory, but the blade of the knife running down three inches of his exposed chest and leaving a thin line of blood wiped it away from his mind.

“I'm gonna enjoy this,” Kendall whispered, just as a gun roared from his right. The man holding Jonah and Rachel fell, not a sound issuing from the mess of his throat, then more gunshots. The boy pulled his sister inside as Kendall’s men scattered. The man himself crouched down, the knife falling from his fingers as he pulled his pistol. “Hwoon dahn,” he grunted.

Three distinct weapons. He could hear their differences, even as he used all his strength to tug his arms free, pulling the men holding him around, kicking at unprotected knees and groins, ignoring the flare from the barely healed wound in his belly. But he was too slow. He saw Kendall aim at him, and knew he couldn’t move fast enough to get out of the way, waiting for the pain to come before the blast reached his ears.

A Mare’s Leg. All his life, if it lasted beyond the next five seconds, he knew he’d remember that sound. He had no idea how he knew it was a Mare’s Leg, but as the bullet it fired caught Kendall high in the chest, he began to believe maybe his life might last minutes. And as he watched the remainder of Kendall’s men run as they saw their leader go down, he was hit by the possibility of years.

Which he rapidly revised down as he saw the people who’d been shooting come out of the undergrowth. He scooped up the rifle and aimed it at them, his finger tightening on the trigger.

“Ben, no.”

He was shocked to see Hannah with them, held by someone who seemed to blot out the sun. “Let her go,” he ordered.

“She ain't being detained,” the big man said. “’Cept she was gonna run in and likely get herself shot.”

“Then let her go.”

The man mountain released her and she ran to his side. “Jonah? Rachel?” she asked fearfully.

“Inside. Safe. You’d better go join them.” He took out the slack.

“Ben, stop. They … they’ve come for you. To take you home.”

He stared at her. “What?”

The woman in the group moved forward. “Mal?” she said.

“You just stay right there,” he called, gesturing with the gun, then felt something jolt through him. “What did you call me?” he asked, his voice hoarse.

“Mal.” The woman took a step closer. Tall, dark, long curly hair, and very … very familiar. “That’s your name. Malcolm Reynolds.”

The gun didn’t waver, but he looked up at the two men behind her. How did he know them? One of them was the big guy, the other slighter, dark almost black hair, but still … He looked back at the woman. “How do you know me?”

“You’re my captain. Your ship is Serenity. She’s a Firefly. And waiting for you right now, back home, is your wife. Her name’s –”

“Freya.” The knowledge of who he was, what he was, hit him like a speeding train, knocking all the wooliness out of his brain, piercing his soul with a flash of self awareness.

“Captain?” Zoe said, putting out one hand to lower the rifle, just in case he pulled the trigger without realising.

He looked at her. “Zoe?”

“That’s me, sir,” she said, smiling hugely.

Hannah could only watch as Ben … no, Mal dropped the rifle and pulled the woman into a hug, which she returned ten fold. The two men clapped each other on the back, grinning widely, laughing while her heart was breaking.

to be concluded

COMMENTS

Saturday, December 15, 2007 1:28 AM

BADKARMA00


It would be a lot easier for me to feel bad for whatsername, if she hadn't made that move to run away and keep them from seeing if 'ben' was really Mal.
I like the way this has run, it's a great arc, and done well. Especially how Mal fought to try and cling to the elusive wisps of memory that taunted him. It's a WINNER!

Saturday, December 15, 2007 1:29 AM

AMDOBELL


Oh Wow, totally fabulous! My only regret is that Jayne and Zoe didn't kill the rest of Kendall's men but what the hell, not only did they get to Mal in the nick of time but now he remembers! Really REALLY enjoyed this to bits, can't wait to see the reunion between Mal and Freya and the kids. Bravo! Ali D :~)

Saturday, December 15, 2007 3:46 AM

SLUMMING


You know the thing that got to me most in this chapter? It was when Mal called Jonah Ethan when he went into protector mode. Lovely touch, that!

Saturday, December 15, 2007 4:35 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


Lost my comment. So I'll just simply say that I knew things would eventually be OK, especially when Mal called Jonah Ethan and that I do feel sorry for Hannah. She had a very human reaction to everything.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 5:11 AM

KATESFRIEND


Loved this story so much, especially all the little images you put in. Of Mal's constant struggle to remember and his flashbacks, of the viewpoint from all the kids, the very vengeful Jayne, the very, very bad guys. The trickiest was Hannah's very human reaction to be selfish instead of altruistic when faced with her inevitable loss. No one knows how they will react after loss and fear, but we all hope our better nature will prevail. Very well done. And glad Mal is finally back! On to more fluff!


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